Department of Commerce Publishes Report in Response to Executive Order 13783

President Trump’s Executive Order 13783 “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” requires that

“The heads of agencies shall review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (collectively, agency actions) that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.  Such review shall not include agency actions that are mandated by law, necessary for the public interest, and consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.”

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This Executive Order establishes deadlines for publishing the agencies’ report on this review.

With regard to seismic survey permitting, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s EO 13783 Report states:
“1. Marine Mammal Protection Act; Title 50, Chapter 2, Subchapter C, Part 216 — Regulations Governing the Taking and Importing of Marine Mammals These regulations implement the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972, 86 Stat. 1027, 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407, Pub. L. 92-522, which, among other things, restricts the taking, possession, transportation, selling, offering for sale, and importing of marine mammals. 50 CFR Part 216, Subparts A to E are not expressly required by statute but are used in the orderly issuance of authorization of take of marine mammals under the MMPA. 2. Marine Mammal Protection Act; Title 50, Chapter 2, Subchapter C, Part 217 — Regulations Governing the Take of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities All of the regulations in Part 217 implement the incidental take provisions of the MMPA as described above through the implementing regulations 50 CFR Part 216, Subpart I. These sections include provisions requested by public applicants applicable to the take of marine mammals. Examples related to the energy sector include: seismic surveys in Cook Inlet, Alaska (50 CFR 217.140-150); and construction and operation of a LNG port in the Gulf of Mexico (50 CFR 217.151-158). The regulations applicable to energy sector projects respond to applicants seeking to ensure compliance with the MMPA in conducting their activities.”


“4. Improvements in Timely MMPA Authorizations As indicated above, it currently takes NMFS an average of 7.5 months to take final action on a request for an Incidental Harassment Authorization under the MMPA and between 12-18 months to take final action on a request for a Letter of Authorization under the MMPA. As with the ESA consultations, NMFS has committed to improvement in the processing time for these applications through more efficient use of Categorical Exclusions under the National 14 Environmental Policy Act, more standardized guidance to applicants, waivers of certain review processes for low impact actions and other actions including potentially seeking legislative amendments to improve efficiency. NMFS is also considering guidance that clarifies how and when staff should record the date on which the agency determines the “adequacy and completeness” of an incidental take authorization application, and will analyze its time frames for reviewing incidental harassment authorization applications. This guidance would add additional certainty for geophysical oil and gas exploration.”

Click here to read Commerce’s entire report.

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